For the first time in roughly ten years, last week the Diamond Horseshoe was home to a western style show featuring a rotating cast of variety acts. But this was no revue or even a jamboree, instead a Limited Time Magic offering with some Halloween spirit.
The “Happy Haunted Horseshoe” brought back live entertainment to this classic Frontierland stage, once home to cancan dancers and over-the-top comedians.
This time, the performance featured a macabre magician, a resurrected barbershop quartet, and undead lounge singer with a serious case of the blues. But its short 5-day run could lead to something much greater down the trail.
Video: Happy Haunted Horseshoe highlights at Walt Disney World
When the Diamond Horseshoe opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971, it followed in the tradition of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe, hosting the Diamond Horseshoe Revue, a rousing throwback to classic saloon entertainment of the wild west days. But as the decades passed, both coasts’ basically ditched their respective shows. The final days of classic performances in the Diamond Horseshoe happened in 2003, later shoehorning in characters like Goofy and the “Toy Story” gang in lesser attempts to keep the venue interesting. Though the Golden Horseshoe in California continued to feature live music, the Diamond Horseshoe was essentially reduced to a sandwich shop, leaving the once lively stage empty.
Enter Limited Time Magic, Disney’s year-long promotion for 2013 during which new entertainment, big and small, has been offered on and off at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This promotion kicked off in a big way at Disneyland with the return of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, not identical to previous incarnations of the show but a fitting tribute to what once was there – and easily a highlight of the year’s “limited time” options. Fans praised Disneyland for bringing back this piece of classic history, if only for a few weeks.
That was January. Jumping ahead roughly 10 months, Walt Disney World decided to resurrect the Diamond Horseshoe, bringing fans in Florida a taste of the old west entertainment. But it wasn’t quite the same.
The Happy Haunted Horseshoe presented a trio of enjoyable acts themed around Halloween, leading up to the holiday and extending one day beyond, all wrapped with Frontierland flair. At the heart of it all was Betty Blue, a forlorn lounge singer seeking a new mate even in the afterlife. Much like the Golden Horseshoe’s Miss Lilly, Betty Blue flirted with men in the crowd while joking with the women.
She alternated introducing the two other similarly-named acts, magician Abner Cadaver and the barbershop quartet Cadaver Dans. Abner performed simple card and coin tricks with a bit of Disney magic, often lobbing adult-themed jokes that went right over the heads of kids in attendance. For example, in response to one woman in the audience quickly doing as Abner asked without a fight, he looked toward her daughter and quipped something like, “I guess that’s how you happened.”
The Cadaver Dans sang an assortment of spooky songs, naturally including “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from The Haunted Mansion. Though they do appear in the park during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, it was nice to see them sing multiple sets.
The overall show lasted around an hour and a half for anyone who wanted to stay and see all the songs and bits. But guests could come and go as they pleased, with no specific beginning or end throughout the 4-hour daily runtime, 11am – 3pm.
But most importantly, and at the end of each day’s show, the performers asked the audience if they enjoyed seeing live entertainment making a grand return to the Diamond Horseshoe, which received enthusiastic applause from the consistently packed house. It seems that though this particular Happy Haunted Horseshoe show was only for Limited Time Magic, Disney is hinting that the venue is ready for more stage acts to come, gauging fans’ reactions through this brief show.
The reactions have been positive, with this venue providing a comfortable, indoor, air-conditioned environment with ample seating, an opportunity to rest, eat and drink, all while being thoroughly entertained. Though nothing new has come of the Golden Horseshoe Revue’s return at Disneyland yet, fans can hope that between both of these successful shows those high up at Disney’s entertainment departments are paying attention to the opportunity to plus their theme parks by simply returning to a blast from the past.
After all, there’s really no reason why a theater this nice should remain a ghost town…
More photos from the Happy Haunted Horseshoe: